Canadian Liberal MP expelled from caucus for supporting Conservative budget

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) Joe Comuzzi, 73, was ousted from the Liberal caucus today by leader Stéphane Dion.

The move was in response to Comuzzi's intention to support the Conservative government's second budget, tabled March 20, 2007. Comuzzi supports the budget because it has funding for a cancer research centre that will hire 300 people in his riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North in Northern Ontario.

"It's for a single issue that's of absolute critical importance to all the people in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario, and that's the cancer research centre," he said in response to his decision.

Following a March 21 caucus meeting, Dion told reporters "I spoke with him. He said that he will vote for this bad budget." Dion explained that it was obligatory for his MPs to follow party direction on confidence measures, such as the latest budget. "He's well aware, after 19 years in the House, of the consequences of what he's doing,"

Comuzzi, first elected to the House of Commons in 1988, had resigned a junior cabinet position previously in 2005, in protest of Paul Matin's then Liberal government's support of same-sex marriage. He had held the Minister of State responsible for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) portofio.

Comuzzi will sit as an Independent and had previously said he will not run in the next federal election. He is now one of the two only Independent MPs in the House.

The move will leave the Liberals with 100 seats in the House. Out of all the 308 seats in the House, the governing Conservatives have 125 seats, the Bloc Québécois have 50, and the New Democrats have 29.